Although it is slightly later in the summer than we are used to due to Covid-19, the CSA T20 Challenge gets underway on Friday with a modified format and all at the one venue but nevertheless we get to see the tournament taking place which is no bad thing.
The Highveld Lions will be looking to defend the title they won back in 2019 with the other five state sides looking to deny them. The whole event will take place at Kingsmead in Durban this year which is something different and every match of the competition will be shown live on Free Sports in the UK.
2018-19 – Highveld Lions
2017-18 – Titans
2016-17 – Titans
2015-16 – Titans
2014-15 – Cape Cobras
2013-14 – Dolphins
2012=13 – Highveld Lions
2011-12 – Titans
Usually we are used to the teams in this competition facing each other home and away before the play-offs but in these Covid-19 times that isn’t possible so the first stage of the event sees all six teams meeting each other once before the top three progress to the knockout stages. Second meets third in the semi-final with the winner playing the team who tops the table in the final.
Captain – Heinrich Klaasen
Key Players – Chris Morris and Simon Harmer
The former champions are the favourites to regain their crown over the course of the couple of weeks this tournament is in operation for. They look worthy favourites too with a number of internationals in their bowling attack and a very solid looking batting line up. This is not the Mzansi Super League where overseas players can bet the difference between the teams so those who stack up internationals in their ranks are entitled to be hard to beat.
Captain – Temba Bavuma
Key Players – Reeza Hendricks & Kagiso Rabada
The Highveld Lions will defend the title they won last time out and with the bowling attack that they have they should go very close again. With the likes of Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen in their side they are not short of guns with the bat and a couple of clever spinners could be advantageous later in the competition when the wickets get tired and start to play into the hands of the tweakers. The Lions are second favourites with the bookies but their chances might just be greater than that.
Captain – Keshar Maharaj
Key Players – David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo
It remains to be seen whether home advantage can be a thing in the current world but if it is then the Dolphins will have it throughout the competition as the tournament takes pace exclusively at Kingsmead in Durban. Knowledge of conditions might well help them initially and if David Miller continues the form he showed in the last T20 game in Pakistan at the weekend and their better bowlers stand up, this could still be a decent year for the Dolphins.
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Captain – Tony de Zorzi
Key Players – Janneman Malan and George Linde
The Cape Cobras are often one of the sides to be beaten in the Mzansi Super League where they play their Newlands ground very well but their success in this competition has been mixed through the years. You have to go back to 2014-15 for the last time they won the title and on the face of it they look like they have work to do to get themselves into the latter stages here. You have to respect a team like the Cobras but their better days look behind them.
Captain – Sinethemba Qeshile
Key Players – JJ Smuts and Amrich Nortje
The Warriors have been beaten finalists in two of the last three stagings of this CSA T20 Challenge so on that form they merit respect. They look a little light with the bat to me which doesn’t usually hold them back because they play on a ground that has a bit in it for the bowlers. They will need their marquee players to really have good competitions if they are going to make it through to the final once again. I’m not sure they are quite at that level at the minute.
Captain – Pite van Biljon
Key Players – Jacques Snyman and Farhaan Behardien
It has been pretty dry pickings for the Knights in recent times with no appearance in the final since 2014-15 and when you look at their squad for this tournament there isn’t a huge amount which gets us excited. Sometimes in these competitions you find the sum of the parts is better than the individual but this isn’t a franchise competition so the Knights don’t even have that to fall back on. It is hard to see them being deep in the mix.
I like the 10/3 on the defending champions Highveld Lions to win this competition. I think they tick all the boxes. They bat fairly deep, have an excellent bowling attack especially if Kagiso Rabada is given the go ahead to play the entire competition, and they have a couple of spinners who have represented South Africa in their time who will come into their own the longer the competition goes on. There really isn’t a weakness in them.
We are used to the Titans going well in this tournament but a number of their historical stars are no longer around in state cricket which is a big issue with regards to them and while the Dolphins have to be respected with home advantage on their side, they will need a big season from David Miller to be competitive in this event you feel. The other three teams look a little way behind the big three but for me it is the Lions who are the team to beat.
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